Ruling party chief proposes 3-way meeting with Park, opposition leader

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- The chief of the ruling Saenuri Party on Monday called for a three-way meeting of President Park Geun-hye, the chairman of the main opposition party and himself to resolve the political stalemate over a parliamentary probe into the state spy agency's alleged meddling in last year's presidential election.

Rep. Hwang Woo-yea's proposal comes amid high political tensions over the deadlocked probe.

Last week, the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) took to the streets as it accused the ruling party of sabotaging the investigation. The probe aims to uncover the truth behind allegations that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) conducted an online smear campaign to sway public opinion in favor of the ruling party ahead of December's presidential election.

On Saturday, the DP's chairman, Rep. Kim Han-gil, called for a one-on-one meeting with the president to resolve the issue, but she has yet to respond.

"It's enough to speak to the president about parliamentary issues when that becomes necessary following talks between the ruling and opposition parties," Hwang said during a Supreme Council meeting at the National Assembly. "However, the opposition's demand should be viewed in a positive light and respected if that can help resolve pending issues in a single stroke."

The ruling party leader also stressed that the rival parties should quit wrangling and shift their focus to issues of national interest, such as foreign policy, national security and the livelihoods of the public.

"I earnestly appeal to the Democratic Party and President Park Geun-hye to accept a three-way meeting between the ruling and opposition parties, and the president so as to open the path to resolving pending issues," he said.

Shortly afterwards, senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun told reporters that the presidential office will consider Hwang's proposal and look into "a variety of circumstances."

The remarks were seen as an indication that Park could accept the offer especially following her appointment of a new senior political affairs secretary earlier in the day.

On Monday, the opposition leader again demanded Park respond to his offer.

"President Park Geun-hye should stop hiding behind a curtain of silence and step forward to normalize the political situation," he told a general meeting of lawmakers at the party's protest headquarters on Seoul Plaza.

"It's astonishing that the president continues to be silent following the No. 1 opposition party leader's proposal for talks, (so) I ask that she give a reply today," he added.

Meanwhile, the ruling party stepped up its calls on the opposition party to quit the protest and return to the National Assembly.

"If this is not a protest against the results of the presidential election and (simply) a campaign to reform the NIS, (the DP) should not break up the parliamentary investigation and promote its political aims outside, but do its best to successfully complete the investigation," Rep. Choi Kyoung-hwan, the ruling party floor leader, said during the Supreme Council meeting.

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